After lots of research, I decided to try one of the new Quo Vadis Habana notebooks. I purchased the 6.25″x9.25″ size, with lined paper and the Anis Green cover (of course). This size is definitely larger than a standard A5 but its not unwieldy.
The covers have a little bit of give to them. They are not as rigid as other hardcover notebooks but it definitely gives the book a unique feeling. Included is a black ribbon page marker with a finished end (bonus!) and a pocket inside the back cover. The elastic closure matches the color of the notebook cover.
The paper is a soft warm white. Its close to cream but not too yellow-y. And the lines on the paper are actually gray and and dotted to be less obtrusive. The lines don’t run all the way to the edge of the paper to create an aesthetic margin around the edges. The spacing of the lines is a mere 5.5mm so if you write small or prefer fine lined writing tools, this is a great notebook.
Now, how does it behave when I put pen to the paper? Spectacularly! I grabbed my bag of EDC pens and tried out just about everything in the bag and the paper handled everything beautifully. The thick art brush pen and the Pilot Envelope Pen (comparable to the extra fine Sharpie for ink coverage) are the only tools that had enough ink show-through on the back to make me hesitant to use both the front and the back of the page. All my fountain pens wrote smoothly (no splines or feathering) and dried quickly (pretty much by five seconds, the ink is not smudging).
I’ll be the first to admit I was a little skeptical of this notebook for several reasons: size, number of pages, and price but I think it made a case on all points.
For size, I normally prefer the classic A5 but I do not find the Habana it to be too big. The slightly flexible covers make the notebook feel comfortable in the hand.
The Habana only has 80 pages which did not seem like a lot when compared to a Rhodia Webbie with 96 pages or the 120 pages in the average Moleskine. Since both sides of the paper can be easily used in the Habana, it really is more like 160 pages compared to the Moleskine which I can seldom use both sides of the paper. As for comparing to the Quo Vadis Habana to the Rhodia Webbie, the line spacing on the Webbie is 7mm instead of the Habana’s wee 5.5mm so I can get more content per page and the slightly larger size probably averages it all out. Not to mention that the Habana is available in red, raspberry, black and green covers while the Webbie is only available in black or orange.
I would not recommend the Habana for anyone with larger handwriting as I think you’d find the line spacing a challenge. If I understand correctly, the Rhodia Webbie uses the exact same paper stock but with wider spaced lines which would probably be a better option.
Goulet Pens did a great video of the Habana with a side-by-side comparison with some of the other notebook brands which I highly recommend.
So, for me, I am quite pleased with the overall performance and value of the Quo Vadis Habana. This is one of the more expensive notebooks I’ve purchased ($23) but the average cost for a Moleskine these days is around $18 for a comparable size so, for the better quality paper, I think the Habana is well worth the investment.